I can describe myself as a purist, and of little desire to change. I believe that teacups should be used for tea, or ice cream if you must. They should be reserved for food and drink and to set an elegant table, but is that always possible or realistic? As much as I cringe when I see a rare teacup that has been sacrificed to create a bird feeder, it is unfathomable that I can save them all.
Why It Matters
The idea to bring back tea time, keep traditions alive, and spread the love, the joy, and the history of teacups is something that I feel very strongly about and strive to impart to anyone who will listen to me ramble about collecting and using beautiful china. A little bit like the parent of an honor roll student, I will pull out my phone and show anyone who will give me the time of day photographs of beautiful teacups.
As a dealer and certified appraiser, I see thousands of teacups each year. My need for perfection transfers over to our inspection process. I am extremely selective about the items that make it onto our website. Pieces do not have to stray far from perfection to find themselves disqualified from being sold. We pride ourselves on selling items that are free from chips, cracks, crazing, wear, hairlines, scratches, repairs, and restoration. Not always an easy task for a vintage teacup. Rather than have hundreds of teacups on our website, we choose to curate a smaller collection that is stellar both in esthetics and condition.
In a quest to avoid discarding such wonderful treasures, how does one manage those pieces that do not measure up? Here are some ideas on how to recycle, upcycle and repurpose old china
One of the easiest transformations is a candle. Here in Ottawa, we have a great company that recycles teacups called Cup of Intention. They focus on DIY Candle kits and workshops together with aromatherapy all while promoting creativity and connection. It’s a lovely way to upcycle teacups that may be crazed or worn.
2. Lamps, Chandeliers, Candelabra, Nightlight
I firmly believe that people should approach teacups and dinnerware as a part of their home as a whole and not just their dining table. Repurposing less-than-perfect pieces and giving them a new vocation can really brighten up your home (no pun intended…) Teacups and teapots can be used to create stylish lamps, chandeliers, candelabras, and nightlights.
Call upon your artistic talents and create one-of-a-kind mosaics from broken teacups and plates. Whether you are creating wall art of embellishing furniture, your efforts will save gorgeous pieces from the landfill and create something entirely new. If you want to learn how to cut tiles, there is a fantastic video here.
Why not wear beautiful pieces? Perhaps, you’ve inherited pieces passed down through the generations that invoke dear memories. Keep these pieces close to your heart. Dishfunctionaldesigns on Etsy creates magnificent bracelets, pendants, and rings with forgotten pieces of vintage china. Have you inherited pieces from your mom or grandmother? Now you can wear them and hold those memories close to you.
5. Bird Feeders
Although I am an avid bird-watching enthusiast, I am not always a fan of teacup bird feeders as I often see perfectly good, high-end teacups converted into aviary lunch counters. But alas, our feathered friends do appreciate dining in style.
A magnificent tablescape is a work of art with every element playing a role in the larger tableau that is a well-thought-out table. Beauty is in the details and centerpieces tie it all together. Use every occasion to make a statement. Teacup centerpieces make wonderful gifts that guests can take with them and create an elegant atmosphere at tea parties and weddings. Combining old china and flowers is a sophisticated way to recycle, upcycle, and repurpose old china.
7. Paper Flower Bouquet Vessels
These beautiful flowers were made by RubysPaperFlowers on Etsy. What a nice way to gift something creative to a friend or relative!
8. Napkin Rings
Beautiful patterns can be mixed and matched to create an elegant table complete with napkin rings made from upcycled teacups.
9. Floating Teacups
If you find yourself feeling crafty, a floating teacup offers the possibility of expressing your creativity and creating a conversation piece for your home. Guests will wonder how you managed to make the teacup float. The trick is gluing a fork between the teacup and the saucer then adding embellishments to hide your illusion. If you would like to try your hand at creating one, there is a great instructional video here.
10. Jewelry Holders
I am a firm believer in “a place for everything and everything in its place”. That is the key to an organized home. But organized doesn’t have to be plan and stuffy. Use orphan teacups or saucers to organize your jewelry. A nice way to recycle, upcycle and repurpose old china while being useful and elegant.
11. Plant Starters And Herb Gardens
My daughter has become a plant aficionado and can’t resist bringing a new succulent home probably more often than she should. Inevitably, these plants need to be divided where the tiny offshoots find their new homes in teacups. They are the perfect size to house these budding houseplants and the perfect way to grow herbs on your kitchen windowsill.
12. Pin Cushions
Whether you are an avid needlepoint fan, quilter, or just need to hem a pair of pants, chances are you have pins about your house. Gather them up and create a lovely pincushion.
You can create one of these clocks using beautiful teacups. Remember, the most important rule…it’s always time for tea! You can also upcycle a dinner plate or salad plate to make a smaller clock. Watch this great tutorial here. You can purchase the elements for your clock at craft stores like Michaels and Hobby Lobby.
14. Plate Wall
I have been slightly obsessed with plate walls as of late. I am secretly gathering (well not so secret now is it?) an eclectic collection of beautiful plates in different sizes and patterns so that I can make my very own plate wall. Instead of leaving a collection to sit in a cabinet, hiding from admirers, hang it up and show it off. You can find adhesive discs for hanging your plates here. This has to be one of my favorite ways to recycle, upcycle, and repurpose old china.
15. Laundry Scoop
If Farmhouse decor is your vibe, then repurposing an orphan teacup as a laundry soap scoop will be right up your alley. Thinking outside the box can make the ordinary beautiful by showcasing your favorite patterns and colors. Old things become new again.
16. Fairy Garden
This is definitely on my to-do list. The only hindrance has been finding all the tiny elements to create my scene. Don’t get me wrong, they are available but with each item running an average of $5-$10, my tiny fairy garden could easily become a $50 diorama. I believe that upcycling, recycling, and repurposing old china should not become a drain on your pocketbook. I personally plan on spending some time creating my own elements from some Fimo clay with a cup of tea on my work table.
17. Christmas decorations (teacup Christmas tree)
What do you do with all of those orphan teacups? Tie a ribbon on them and hang them on your tree! Slightly damaged teacups will be perfect for a tree as most of those flaws will never be seen. Inspired by a friend who has several Christmas trees in his home, I’ve been meaning to create a teacup tree for a few years now, and well, 2020 has been such a fiasco, I may as well try to end in with an amazing display of lights and teacups! If you have many teacups, this is a great way to recycle, upcycle and repurpose old china.
18. Teacup Wreath
Not just for Christmas, teacup and plate wreaths can be used any time of the year. You can modify your display to coincide with your favorite holidays. Why not add pastel-colored teacups and Easter eggs to celebrate in the Spring? You could even change it up and have a spooky wreath for Halloween. A mix of greenery and floral plates fit with any decor.
19. Curtain Tiebacks
A quick and easy way to recycle, repurpose and reuse teacups is to create curtain tiebacks. It’s easy to choose a beautiful pattern or color that coordinates with your curtains to unify your decor.
20. Christmas Teacup Bell
A small bell, a pretty bow and a dab of glue and suddenly you’ve taken an ordinary teacup and made a beautiful Christmas ornament! For just a few dollars and a few minutes, you can change this teacup into a lovely holiday bell. It would be a wonderful embellishment for a holiday teacup wreath as well!
Do you have a favorite? Is there an idea you definitely would not try? Have you upcycled, recycled, or repurposed teacups and other pieces of china? Let us know in the comments!